Graves of thousands of unknown

"During dinner, I inquired as to the reasoning behind it all. Why the terror, the killings, the cruelty? I was adequately informed by men who had been at Dachau for terms as long as twelve years. The gist of the reasoning was as follows: In Hitler's conception of conquering the whole world, he desired to enslave all peoples, not as mere slave labor, but, in addition, he tried to completely break the human mind; to put it on a level with common animals. By doing this, he could not only make the German a superman, but, in addition, he could raise the ego of the German to unheard of heights." Lt. Col. Walter J. Fellenz, from his Report to the Commanding General, 6 May 1945

Mass grave with ashes of thousands of unknown victims

As you enter the tourist gate to the crematoria area, you will see straight ahead of you, behind the crematorium building, the location where the ashes of thousands of unknown victims at the Dachau camp were buried. A small monument stands at the back of the mass grave shown in the photograph above. It has three tiers with a star of David in the middle and a Menorah on top. The marker in the foreground says "Grave of thousands of unknown." A path to your right leads into the woods where there are other mass graves of the ashes of unknown prisoners.

Before October 1944, the bodies of prisoners who died in the Dachau concentration camp were either buried in the Old Cemetery in the town of Dachau or they were cremated in the double oven of the old crematorium or the four ovens of the new crematorium. When the American Seventh Army liberated Dachau, they found dozens of red clay pots which the inmates told them were used for the ashes of the victims to be sent to the relatives of the deceased. (The Buchenwald and Natzweiler Memorial Sites have some of these pots on display, but there are none to be seen at Dachau.)

Ashes of foreign prisoners were buried in mass graves in the woods just north of the new crematorium. Today there are monuments and plaques which mark the sites in the woods where the mass graves of ashes are located. After the Nazis ran out of coal for burning the bodies in 1944, they created a new burial ground on a hill called the Leitenberg, north of the camp in the district of the town of Dachau called Etzenhausen.

The photograph below shows the first grave site just as you enter the woods to the right of the mass grave shown above. A carved stone on the ground tells you that this is another grave of thousands of unknown victims.

Grave of ashes of thousands of unknown victims

The photograph directly below shows the third mass grave of unknown victims who died at Dachau. An urn on top of the Christian cross on the ground holds some of the ashes of the dead. Another cross stands in front of the wall which is behind a scraggly hedge. There is a nearby bench which is behind the camera in this photograph.

The third grave of thousands of unknown victims

A semi-circular path curves through the beautiful woods north of the crematorium. This is a sad but peaceful place where the only sounds are the songs of thousands of birds in the trees. (The whole town of Dachau is like a bird sanctuary.)

The photograph below shows the first grave site you will see if you enter the woods by the path to your right as you face the front of the crematorium building. If you enter this semi-circular path to the right of the Jewish monument behind the crematorium, this is the fourth mass grave you will see before you emerge again near the entrance to the crematorium.

The fourth spot in the woods where ashes were buried

Pistol range for executions

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This page was last updated on May 28, 2007